Welcome to The Hear Me Out [CC] Podcast, an audio show (with transcripts included) where we hear from inspiring people in and around the d/Deaf community and from your host, yours truly, Ahmed Khalifa.
In episode 2 of the podcast, I chat with Amy Rowe, who runs two businesses and is an ambassador of a deaf charity. We talk about the challenges growing up with a hearing loss (alongside her brother), fighting to build a career as a journalist and subsequently co-founding 2 businesses whilst doing her charity work.
Listen to the podcast or read the transcripts below:
- Foco Global
- Mouthy Money
- Amy’s blog post about the true cost of living with a hearing loss
- Deaf Kidz International
- Amy’s Twitter page
Ahmed: Welcome to The Hear Me Out! [CC] Podcast, a show where you’ll hear from inspiring people in and around the d/Deaf community and from your host, Ahmed.
Ahmed: Hey, what’s up everyone? This your host, Ahmed Khalifa. Episode two of Hear Me Out, CC podcast, and it’s going to be a fun one today because I’m going to be interviewing Amy Rowe, who is a really cool entrepreneur who built her own businesses with such a cool background and interesting stories, some powerful stories as well.
Ahmed: She has offered to share really cool, useful tips and advice for, not just those who are in a deaf community, but also those in the hearing world as well. Just do something that can help both sides of a part and to make the most of everyone’s life as well. So really cool interview. I hope you stick around, and let’s get into it right now.
Ahmed: Okay, well Amy, thank you for coming to the show. I really appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Amy: Thank you for having me.
Ahmed: I’m really excited. I’ve been thinking about what to ask you because there’s so many things I want to ask you after just having a little sneaky look online about what you’ve been doing or what you’ve been … so many things to cover, but I just want to start off with … let’s talk about the background of your hearing journey, as I like to … or hearing loss journey. Whatever way you want to put it.
Ahmed: Tell me about your background, the challenges that you had. You grew up and how did you overcome … just that kind of story really.
Amy: Okay, so I was born deaf. I’ll actually give you, for anyone who’s … this has taking me absolute ages to get my head around, so I’m going to give you the full title of my loss. I never remember this so I’ve got this written down on my letter from the NHS. Bear with me. It’s a bilateral symmetrical mild to moderate sensing … I can’t say this word. Senso … see how bad this is, sensorineural hearing loss.
Amy: Yeah, a bit of a mouthful, but what that means is that I’ve got somewhere from birth, some damage sustained in my inner ear. It could be the hairs, it could be the nerve. I don’t know any more than that. It was the only reason I was diagnosed is because my older brother has no hearing actually in his left ear I believe. My mom suspected I had the same problem.
Amy: I’m 34 now, so this all kicked off in the 80s, early 90s and my mom was convinced that my brother had a problem because while the health professionals were like, “No, no, no, he’s just being rude. It’s not that he can’t hear you when you’re shouting at …” I’m sure she was shouting at him, but four years old, he wasn’t turning around when she spoke to him. He wasn’t showing any sign of having heard what she was saying unless she was in front of him, and she just knew that something was up.
Amy: So, when he was diagnosed after, I think that was a bit of a battle actually because they just didn’t really believe her. Back then … and I’m sure you’ll have the same experience on the NHS, the testing wasn’t what it is today.
Amy: Eventually he was diagnosed with … he’s got no loss … sorry, no hearing in one ear, the left one, and a partial loss in the right. It was after that that they said, “Okay let’s bring the other one in.” They found out that I had my, I’m not going to say it again. I’m not as deaf as my brother. I want to make that really clear because we always have an argument about who’s deafer than the other. It’s an argument only we can have and he’ll be listening to this.
Amy: So just Richard, in case you’re listening, yeah you’re worse than me.
Amy: Anyway, that happened when I was about six, by the time that happened. I was given over the … I had hearing aids in both ears. I think talking about … I think it was very obvious when I was growing up, less obvious now in my adult life because a lot of things that I can go into later, but I found it very difficult at school because there’s so many reasons why school was difficult.
Amy: Not because you’re trying to hide that there’s something not perfect about you, but also the fact that school environments are very difficult to hear in.
Amy: I don’t know whether you’ll remember, but when you’re in an exam hall or a classroom, the acoustics are awful. So I remember just always struggling at school and I don’t think I participated as well as I could have done. I used to read … I used to basically read all the time. I still do, but I would read my books before I went in.
Amy: Then after the lesson and kind of catch up then in my own time. But during the lesson I found it really hard to listen to teachers, particularly as they turn their faces to the wall or the board.
Amy: My teachers knew there was something wrong obviously, and I did have somebody in every few months from the NHS that would check up on me from audiology. She’d check my hearing aids were okay and check that I was okay.
Amy: So, the support was definitely there and I even had a … oh this is terrible. I can’t remember the name of it, this huge hearing loop given to me.
Amy: I don’t know whether you had one of these, but this one would go around my neck and it was the size of a book. So there I was really trying to be as cool as possible at age 12. They were like, here you go. This will make you really obvious.
Amy: So yeah, sat there with this, and then I kept on being told, you’ve got to sit in front of class because if you don’t nobody will be able to … you won’t be able to listen, but I didn’t want to sit at the front of the class because the cool kids sat at the back. Not that I was cool ever, but you still try.
Amy: So eventually what started to happen as I got older was I completely abandoned the equipment they gave me. I hated it. I lost my hearing aids on a regular basis as well. That hasn’t changed.
Amy: So, easy to lose, but I think I did it with a willfulness that I don’t have now. I couldn’t stand them. I found them embarrassing. I didn’t tell anyone that I had a hearing problem for the longest time. I even got to college and I don’t think I told my teachers at that stage. I didn’t have to.
Amy: So, college, I think, was a bit of a struggle, but I managed to get through. I did quite … I did reasonably well for someone that I don’t think, looking back, I heard half my lessons. I got three Bs in the end and then I went to study drama at Hull University.
Amy: Drama is probably quite strange choice in some ways for someone who struggles with hearing. Certainty there are lots of issues I had with that, but we can talk about this later too. I also think that the hearing loss helped me develop my communication skills in ways beyond the hearing world, if you like. It makes you pay far more attention to body language, et cetera.
Amy: So, I loved doing drama, and actually then I realised I really did need to start talking about it and I did need to have help. So I had a note taker in the lecture halls because, quite frankly, lecture halls, in terms of acoustics, were even worse and far more people. That was really helpful.
Amy: Yeah, so that’s … I’m taking through my educational history, but then I went into the world of work. I don’t know whether … I feel like I’ve been talking for ages. Sorry.
Ahmed: It’s okay because I find myself nodding my head as you were talking about it. I’m thinking, “yep I’ve been there”. Yep, I want to hide it. Yep, didn’t talk about it. Even though you have all the challenges you still hide it and you still don’t talk about it, and here we are now actually on record, talking about it and kind of admitting it to the world as well, which is something that I never thought I would do when I was in high school, primary school, even university as well.
Ahmed: So that’s why I find myself, you know what, it’s very true.
Ahmed: It’s also important for people to understand that it does happen, but you might not know it. It’s happened in the background, but there’s a reason why we feel, always felt that way. It’s not like we don’t want help. We did, but it’s just the case of like, kind of embarrassed to ask for help at that time. This is my situation anyway, but you’re right.
Ahmed: Over time the support was there. Parents were helpful, all these things and trying to help wherever they can, but there were circumstances where you didn’t want to, for example, take extra lessons, or you didn’t’ want to sit in the front of a class and all that kind of stuff.
Ahmed: Definitely in the big assembly room hall where they’re echoey and people shouting in that room and you’re trying to find out what are they saying, you’re not going to ask them to repeat again because it’s going to repeat the problem.
Amy: Social death.
Ahmed: Unbelievable. It’s unbelievable. So it’s interesting. That’s why I was asking you because I think it’s important that people get an idea of that background and what it led to. Of course, have an impact on people around us.
Ahmed: That’s why it was interesting that you say it about your brother. I don’t have that competition like you guys about who’s deafer than who. I’m the only one in my family with my younger brother and younger sister, so I win hands down. It sounds like, from your situation, that both your parents are hearing.
Ahmed: That means they will have … I’m guessing it must be quite challenging for them to kind of have to look at how to help both of their children, but with different type of hearing loss, isn’t it?
Amy: Yes. My momma spoke about her, then she was there for most of the day to day because my parents divorced when I was quite young. So while my dad was really supportive, it really did fall to my mom to fight the battles.
Amy: Those battles would be at school, they’d be … my brother was very badly bullied, but I was bullied too, but he was subject to some awful bullying. It was deaf specific bullying. It was like, you deafo. I’m not going to swear. Some nasty stuff was said.
Amy: There was absolutely no … I think it’s different now in schools I have to say, but there was no understanding. There was no provision really for that type of … I think bullying in general in the 90s was probably a bit … I think it’s a bit better today, I have to say.
Amy: Anyway, so mom would be really supportive of me when I came home crying because someone said I was stupid. That happened a lot because I think that happens when people assume that you haven’t responded in the right way because you don’t understand them, and I was too embarrassed to explain, and I felt like it was a dirty secret.
Amy: So, mom would be at home bolstering my confidence. I’d come home crying. She’d say, you need to respond in this way. You need to tell people Amy, as soon as you meet them, that you have a problem. I was like, okay.
Amy: Then she also introduced me to deaf club, which she thought would be really helpful. These are … I think they had them all over the UK and they probably still do, but set up by the councils in Birmingham where I grew up.
Amy: They were just community led kind of evenings where deaf children could get together, but I never identified myself as being deaf. I did the last thing I wanted to do at that age was hang out with a bunch of deaf people. There’s something to … yeah, I think I went twice and then I was like, mom please don’t make me go back there.
Amy: So, she was always doing everything she could. She also helped me with my funding application for university because you have to do a … you have to make a case for getting extra help, like the note taker.
Amy: So, she said, “Don’t do what you normally do Amy and say it’s actually fine because I know you can pull it off, but we know you struggled at college. This is the time you have to lay it on thick.” That was the first time I realised there was a benefit to telling people that you didn’t hear all that well.
Ahmed: Yeah, she sounds like an amazing mom to help you-
Amy: She is. She really is.
Ahmed: All that way. It’s amazing. Again, I can completely understand where you’re coming from and yeah, your parents try to help you and say, you need to do this and you need to do that. But at the end of the day, it’s difficult for them to understand your situation. It’s not their fault, but it’s difficult for them to understand why you are saying no to all these things.
Ahmed: We have our reasons. In my mind, at that time it made sense. Maybe looking back it didn’t make sense, but how we grew up in that sense as well.
Ahmed: So, you’ve gone through all that and you’ve gone through university and gone today. You’re now looking after a couple of companies, which is pretty cool. Foco Global and Mouthy Money. You’re very busy, clearly. So just briefly tell me about the two brand and what do they do? What is your day to day role with both of them?
Amy: Okay so firstly, I’m actually, I’ve taken a step back from Mouthy Money as you say, it’s extremely busy. So Mouthy Money, in chronological order, came before Foco, but Mouthy Money is a personal finance blog that I set up with a couple of other people a couple of years ago.
Amy: My background is as a journalist. I haven’t really written for anyone that anyone would have heard of, but kind of more trade magazines and magazines for businesses. My business partner had written for a lot of the nationals.
Amy: Anyway, we had a … we were kind of working in financial services, PR, at the same time. We thought a lot of the content that’s being delivered to millennials, sorry to use that word, about money was rubbish because it … I couldn’t see anyone really being inspired by a story that says five top ISAs you need to open or reasons why you need to save.
Amy: We felt like there was something massively missing. What we wanted to do was tell real stories by real people.
Amy: So those stories would be more about someone’s divorce, somebody dying, real things that had happened and the financial impact that it had because it’s generally not until we get to these pitfalls and things like that that normal people … I say normal people because most people don’t have stacks and stacks of cash.
Amy: It’s generally these crisis points that they start thinking, I need to get sorted. That’s when they go to Mouthy Money or they yeah…So that was the [inaudible 00:17:00]. It’s been going for several years now.
Amy: So, while I’m still a co-founder and I’m really proud of it, I took a step back from that a year ago because … so I’m not involved in the day to day running of it, but sometimes still write for it because I set up a content marketing agency with Michael Taggart, who also I work with on Mouthy Money. I think by then we kind of kspthat we work well together.
Amy: The content marketing agency is what I do basically day to day. We run that from London and it’s been a really challenging year in terms of learning all the stuff that comes with running a new business. So not just … it’s not just about getting new business. It’s also we got our first employee, so pensions. My god, that’s complicated. So that is why I mainly focus on that. Yeah.
Ahmed: Landmark moment when you’re trying to organise pension.
Amy: I know. I know.
Ahmed: I haven’t done that yet. Wow.
Amy: It’s deathly boring, but you’ve got to do it.
Ahmed: Oh, of course. I agree. At the moment I’m not in that situation with my day business, but wow, yeah that sounds like a lot of work. It’s real interesting because something that I can relate to is content marketing.
Ahmed: That’s why I’m doing this, recording the podcast. It’s another form of content to share information to help others and to provide service that can think. There is one particular content that you’ve written on Mouthy Money which definitely resonated with me. It’s about the true cost of living with hearing loss.
Ahmed: Again, I was reading through. I would find myself, yep, nodding my head, thinking yeah I’ve been there. All that kind of stuff.
Ahmed: I love how you kind of said things like, “maybe I could have been a Prime Minister if I sat in front instead of the back.”
Amy: Oh, I don’t know about that right now, but yeah.
Ahmed: It’s written there.
Amy: Actually maybe. This is before Brexit.
Ahmed: Okay, I’ll give you that then. I’ll give you that.
Ahmed: I will link to it in the show notes to people can read it and I definitely think people should read it. It’s really, really interesting, but you talked about these challenges. It’s not just a challenge that we talked about in school and university.
Ahmed: There is a whole new set of challenges when we are in our careers. So what kinds of challenges did you face when you’re trying to build that career? You mentioned that it may have held you back, but did it hold you back really? So what kind of challenges, and did it hold you back in a way?
Amy: I think broadly it could have. I think obviously as I say this, I have co-founded a business, so things aren’t really that bad. I did have a big, I’d say a chip on my shoulder for a few years because my confidence was really bad in my 20s. I do think I could have gone a different way. My dream was always to be a features writer for the nationals. I love writing and that’s all I wanted to do.
Amy: I got my first job in Trade Mags, but I was too scared to apply for anything at the nationals, even when … actually I did land a couple of interviews, but I have to say I couldn’t hear some of the interviewers and I didn’t say I had a hearing problem because there was never the right time in the middle of … suddenly ten minutes would go, we’d be ten minutes in.
Amy: I’d be trying to do my best answering the questions that they throw at you, and then I would mishear something they said. Then I was in the really unfortunate position of going, “sorry”? It just felt like I was immediately on the back foot. I always used to say to myself, you’ve got to start saying it now, but in my heart of hearts I was worried that … I’m not anymore by the way, but I was really worried that they wouldn’t want someone in a news room doing interviews who couldn’t hear very well.
Amy: At this stage, I’d never met anyone who had a partial hearing loss working in media. I now know one other person who does that and she does very well. She’s working for the FT actually. But at that stage, I knew no one and at that stage in my career I didn’t have a mentor either, so I was sort of bumbling along I think just feeling very low … with very low self-esteem, not hearing interviews properly.
Amy: While I was actually at work, I would be struggling in meetings. I would be struggling on those phone calls. You know when you’re having to talk to several people at once, Skype sometimes is really difficult if your connection wasn’t good.
Amy: It was just all sorts of things where I was … and also, sorry, jumping a bit, but early on in your career you are much more likely to be asked to do things like take notes. I wasn’t … I did not feel like I was able, because I didn’t want to be a diva, to say you don’t want me taking notes because I’ve missed out whole bits. I would just be like, I don’t know what happened to this sentence. Then after an hour I was like, I’m tired.
Amy: You’ve spoken about this in the videos, it’s very tiring when you’re sat there trying to take notes or follow a conversation that’s happening in a loud room between eight people.
Amy: Some of those people may be very clearly spoken. Some of them, and probably more likely more, would be covering their mouths when they speak. They’ll be looking down at their phones or rustling papers and you’ve lost half the sentence.
Ahmed: Been there, done that.
Ahmed: Yeah, it’s hard to, as you said, find the right time. Especially when, you know when you know someone you talk to them but you don’t know their name, but you think it’s too late to ask them for their name?
Ahmed: It’s like that. Almost like that where you think, oh time has gone so long that it’s kind of almost too late to tell them that I can’t hear very well. Yeah, I can understand meetings and phone calls and even speaker phones.
Ahmed: Yeah, they’re not great. People think it’s easier, but it’s not always easier. Yeah, I can definitely understand what you’re saying, and I can understand why you’re saying it held you back a little bit.
Ahmed: Clearly, you’ve gone over these hurdles, you’ve gone through it, you’ve persevered and you’re doing something which is pretty cool. So I guess, in your mind, how did you persevere and how did you keep going? What was it inside you that said, you know what, I need to keep going and fight through it instead of get knocked down and don’t bother? How did you do that?
Amy: Well, I mentioned mentors earlier, but it was a combination between mentors and some very good bosses. I was working, in my last job in publishing before I moved up to content marketing, I was working for a place called City Wire.
Amy: The support that I got there … the just generally lovely atmosphere that people had, I for the first time felt like I could really be open about my hearing loss. I also met the first journalist I’d ever met who also had hearing difficulty. We’d have a laugh about it.
Amy: So, it first of all started to feel okay and something that I would be gently ripped for, which was fine. I also moved into doing different stuff. I wasn’t just doing interviews, so that helped. It came about at the same time as digital got really big and Facebook and all that stuff.
Amy: I actually found myself preparing digital content anyway and getting about dinky about websites. So I didn’t mind taking a back step anyway with the interviews and I thought, you know what Amy, maybe you’re not meant to be hard hitting journalist. Maybe your skills lie elsewhere.
Amy: So, it kind of happened like that, but then when I moved into PR and marketing, my boss at the time, who is now my business partner … trivia for you … said, “Amy, I really think you could do with a mentor.” I thought that’s something that you did in America. I was like, “Oh that sounds really, no I don’t need a mentor.” I was like, that’s so cringe, talking about my career. But-
Ahmed: There’s a but, yeah.
Amy: I loved her, this lady who’s quite high up. She’s quite senior in PR in London, and happened to be the warmest, friendliest, head screwed on completely kind of person you could meet and gave me lots of advice about … it wasn’t specifically disability related to be honest.
Amy: It was just having someone in more corner, who I wasn’t working with, give me a way of processing challenges at work and was there at the end of the day if I needed to fire up and email or speak to here on the phones. I found that really, really helpful because also my experience, companies say they believe in giving you a mentor.
Amy: What they quite often do is do a short cut and they’ll give you a mentor within the company. I understand why they do that, but I don’t think it works. I think you need someone outside the company that can support you.
Amy: I think there is a movement for people who have disabilities to find someone who has a similar disability, but right now in the media there just aren’t that many of us. I certainly didn’t know any at that stage.
Ahmed: It’s quite hard to find, especially for those who don’t talk about it a lot.
Ahmed: It’s more difficult to find, especially if you have these, quote, invisible disabilities.
Amy: Yes, it is. Yeah.
Ahmed: Which is what we kind of have if you don’t wear your hearing aids, which is not that obvious, then it is invisible. So it’s not really that obvious, so I can totally understand where you’re coming from. Even for me growing up, I didn’t know a lot and it’s hard to find, even if you look online and offline.
Ahmed: Yeah, it’s really, really hard to find. So I guess having the right people around you is pretty powerful. It’s just like you’re saying, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, clearly kind of true in your case as well. So I quite like that.
Ahmed: So then, in that sense, just thinking about it, is a stigma about people with different kinds of disabilities. It’s not just hearing loss, but there’s a stigma about having disabilities and also have a successful career.
Ahmed: That’s something that you mentioned in your blog post about if you didn’t have disability, would you be even more successful? Would you be further up the rank and would you be a Prime Minister? Who knows.
Ahmed: But for those who are in a similar situation where they’re thinking about their career, but they also have any kind of disabilities, what advice would you have for those who want to build a career similar to yourself? What advice would you say to them?
Amy: I think we’re living in an age where it’s never been easier to find people to get advice from. So if you are looking for a career in whatever industry, you will probably find somebody who faces the same or similar challenges to you.
Amy: So, the first step I think is do some research and reach out. New family on Twitter, there are so many people on Twitter that put something in their bio to suggest what disability they have or what cause they’re fighting. So I would say to anyone trying to get into an industry or move up the ladder, “Do some research and reach out because people do want to hear from you and they will want to help.”
Amy: So, go take someone for a coffee and say, what can I do? Give me some advice. Then you can also … you will also kind of … what’s the word? You will gel with them on your shared experience as well as the fact that you’re working in the same industry. So that’s one thing.
Amy: The second thing that I would say, and this came easier for me because I was more senior and it’s very difficult to do this if you’re quite junior, so I appreciate that, but I started talking to my colleagues about … well basically tips on how to communicate with me.
Amy: This came from one day, or several occasions actually, where one particular colleague yelled across the room. She would do this with everybody, but she was yelling across the room. I’m there writing away. I can’t hear anything. In fact, it faded into the background noise. It was very noisy.
Amy: Eventually, somebody next to me said, “You’re being called from across the room.” I was enraged because I was so embarrassed. I was like, well that just makes me look a bit dopey and I’ve always had that … I’ve always felt dopey if I couldn’t hear something and on the back foot. It’s just something, I was instantly embarrassed.
Amy: So anyway, I decided next week I am going to address the company, not in a confrontational way, but say “You might have noticed I’m deaf and there’s been several occasions where that would have been really obvious, but I’d like to kind of talk to you about it and what things make it easier for me.”
Amy: Then I gave a … I didn’t go on for ages, I promise, but I gave them about five steps … I think it was something like five steps, one of which was don’t yell across the room ever again or I won’t talk to you ever again.
Amy: So, don’t do that. Be aware that when we’ve got meetings, this background noise, I really find it difficult because I’m sure most people with hearing difficulties say the same thing. Things in an office, like pulling your chair across the floor while someone is talking, not considerate. Don’t do it.
Amy: Third, everyone identifies with this, don’t talk with your hand in front of your mouth. Make sure that I can see your mouth. In fact, I said this is okay. If you’re wanting to talk to me and I’m not paying attention for whatever reason, I’m looking elsewhere, you can tap me on the shoulder.
Amy: I’d rather that than you talk and then halfway through realise I don’t know, because I’ll only ask you to repeat it. I think there were two more but I can’t remember. Anyways, I’m sure they never forgot it.
Ahmed: Well clearly if you think, yeah don’t talk to me or you’re not my friend anymore. Not like that. Pretty brave though. Pretty brave to kind of send out almost like a company-wide email and say your situation.
Amy: Oh, I didn’t do it over email. I wouldn’t have done that. I think this is a thing. I am quite comfortable speaking in front of people, so I just got up in front of the meeting. I have to say, my heart was pounding.
Amy: I also felt like, I’m going to be honest. I was like, they’re just going to think, Amy is whining on about being deaf again.
Ahmed: Right. Yeah, I understand.
Amy: Yeah, but actually I had really good feedback. I think, if you go into these situations and you have the honest desire to try to help people help you, then they will see it for what it is.
Amy: Nobody should be going away thinking that you are making a big deal or trying to be confrontational because that’s what I think a lot of people worry about when they make a big deal out of things.
Ahmed: Yeah, very true. Lots of great tips. That’s really cool actually. Again, these sort of things like don’t cover your mouth when you’re speaking and little things that people think about or don’t think about. Chair dragging across the floor while a conversation is going on, yeah that’s you’re gone. I’m gone and I’m like, what the hell are we talking about? You’re right. You’re right.
Ahmed: As for what you’re saying about reaching out to other people, Twitter is great for that. It kind of, for me personally, allowed me to connect with people because they mention in the bio and then you search for a specific key word and you find it. It’s pretty cool.
Ahmed: Also, speaking of Twitter and the bio, I’ve also noticed in your bio that you’re also involved with Deaf Kidz International. So again, you’re just doing a number of things. You’re just so busy, which is quite cool. Just briefly, who are they, Deaf Kidz International? What is your role there as well?
Amy: Okay, Deaf Kidz, amazing organisation founded in 2014 by a chap called Steve Crump. Steve used to work … he used to be in the Army, the armed forces and he lost his hearing through repeated gunfire.
Amy: So, he signs now, et cetera, then he couldn’t work in the armed forces anymore so he moved into international relations and it was through his work with various charities that he realised that even though a lot of children’s charities working really hard in war torn areas across the world, what they weren’t doing was noticing the deaf children.
Amy: The deaf children were going completely noticed and they were also far more vulnerable than the other children for very obvious reason, no one communicates with them. They don’t have the equipment that they needed.
Amy: Perhaps they’re struggling with cultural differences in those areas where in some areas, if you have a hearing difficulty or you’re deaf, they see it as which craft and they burn you alive.
Amy: So there’s all sorts of stuff that he became really aware of and horrified by, so decided to set up Deaf Kids, which is charity that works in loads of areas. It works in countries in Africa, Pakistan, Jamaica, and it sets up, depending on the needs of that particular community, it sets up different programmes.
Amy: So they might be training people on the ground, like training teachers to speak to kids. Training teachers to learn to recognise the symptoms of sexual violence because that was happening a lot.
Amy: That’s something Steve and his team found. Girls who were subject to abuse weren’t able to talk about it because they actually didn’t have language, so a lot of these programmes, Steve and his team will be working to teach kids and their teachers sign language, and police men and women of course. Police men and women.
Amy: So, there are so many things that they do. I can’t possibly go into all of them, but Steve got in touch with me through Twitter, noticed I was starting to write a bit about hearing loss, and he got in touch with me a really good time because I was thinking, okay I’ve written a lot about his now. I’ve been banging the drum a bit. I feel like I need to give something back. As cliché as that sounds, I really did.
Amy: So he got in touch with me about, maybe eight months ago and what I’m doing with them … got the title of ambassador, but basically we are working with a communications team to devise how Deaf Kids brings it’s message to media and obviously the world. So obviously that’s my expertise, so watch this space.
Ahmed: Sounds like even the small example that you shared, that’s powerful stuff. Very powerful stuff. You’re right, they do get forgotten about and the problem is, if they can’t hear you, you can’t hear them. How will they be noticed?
Ahmed: It makes sense. It makes a lot of sense. I guess a lot of people don’t think about that. So I will mention that again in the show notes, link to the website so people can check him out. It’s amazing. Even hearing from yourself, I learned a little bit more after I do my own research, so pretty cool.
Ahmed: We covered quite a lot of things in here, so I guess we’ll round it off with a few things that I thought … some funny things, some crazy things, and just from your own perspective, alright?
Ahmed: So let’s round it off with a few questions and you can be quite brief about it I suppose, or you can elaborate a bit more. So first question is, from me, is what is the worst thing people said to you about your hearing?
Amy: You don’t look deaf.
Ahmed: Oh yeah, I’ve had that.
Amy: It’s like just get out.
Ahmed: I’m not sure what the definition of your supposed to look a certain way.
Amy: I was like, that’s incredibly insulting to so many people.
Ahmed: Yeah, I’m laughing about it, but it’s like I’m laughing because I’ve heard it myself so many times. I’m in disbelief, laughing in disbelief like what the hell. On a side note, don’t do that.
Ahmed: What’s the worst thing about being deaf?
Amy: The worst thing about it, crap subtitles. No seriously, missing out. Oh, actually I have got one thing, missing out on banter.
Ahmed: Ah yes, you go to pub, restaurants, wherever and there’s a group of people, but you don’t always hear all the jokes.
Amy: Yeah, and no one ever repeats them. By the time they do, because some of my friends are really sensitive now, they’ll repeat them and you’re like, oh. I’m not sure why I even asked you to repeat that, you know?
Ahmed: Okay yeah, that’s true. Been there as well. Let’s turn around then.
Ahmed: What’s the best thing about being deaf?
Amy: I think I’ve now got a super power because I feel like I know what someone’s thinking or feeling through their body language.
Ahmed: Very interesting. Very cool, wow.
Amy: Most of the time. I bet you do too.
Ahmed: Well it’s true because when you don’t use the tone of voice as much as other people, you look at other signals. You’re right, body language is like that, but I guess now that you mentioned it, I’ve never thought of it like that.
Ahmed: So now you’re making me think. I suppose you’re going to think, now he’s judging me now. I don’t do that.
Ahmed: Very interesting. I like that answer. Very cool answer. So then, what advice do you have … you’ve answered it a few times, but let’s just say what’s the best advice you have for hearing people when they are around deaf people? I know you’ve mentioned a few of them, so if you have to pick one out of many, what would it be?
Amy: Well, this is one I’ve heard you say and I totally agree with you. Volume isn’t the problem here. Don’t assume that by shouting once they’ve told you that they’re deaf that they’ll hear you, or even that you won’t offend them because they probably won’t hear you and you probably will offend them.
Amy: I think it’s very … we’re always going to have this challenge and I think the people who have the hearing loss need to be approaching the subject with as much humour and dignity as possible because you are always going to have people that make those comments again and again and again, and they are the same comments. “Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now?” It’s like, ahhh!
Ahmed: Oh, so true. You’re right, volume is one thing. I’ve mentioned it a few times on my video, on my website as well.
Ahmed: You’ll find it in the show notes linked to the website, but I’ve mentioned the best way you look at it about volume, if you are in a foreign country and they don’t speak English, and you think shouting at them louder and slowly in English will make them understand you, it won’t work.
Ahmed: It’s kind of the same concept. Kind of. I’m not going to say exactly the same, but kind of the same idea. But you’re right, volume doesn’t mean perfect clarity at all.
Amy: Yes. Yes.
Ahmed: Okay, so then the final question then is … again you’ve mentioned it anyway, but let’s just, instead of focus on career, in general life, what advice do you have for anyone who’s living with hearing loss impairment, whatever kind, in making the most out of their life?
Amy: I think they don’t isolate yourself. Start talking to as many people as possible, hearing people, deaf people, people in between. You’re not an island. I was an island for a number of years and it’s really no fun.
Ahmed: You’re not an island. I like that.
Amy: Actually, it wasn’t me that said that. I think it was Paul Simon.
Ahmed: Okay. We’ll take it anyway. We’ll take it. I like that. Either way, it’s relevant. You’re right. Don’t be alone in your own world. You can still connect with people. I like that idea. Any people. It doesn’t matter who it is.
Ahmed: Hearing or not, doesn’t matter. So I like that. Amy, I’ve got to thank you because even for me, I’m thinking it’s so good. I think we can go on forever, but let’s not because it gets to be the longest podcast in the history of podcasts.
New Speaker: I have to thank you for being here and also for sharing amazing stories. Really, really cool stories, really amazing advice. I think the listeners will get a lot out of it, so I thank you for that. I appreciate it.
Amy: Thank you. It’s been an absolute pleasure and I’m really looking forward to hearing more stories from your podcast.
Ahmed: I’ll make sure I’ll do that. No pressure at all. I’ll make sure. No, I do appreciate it. Let’s speak again soon, I hope.
Ahmed: Yeah, thank you again.
Amy: Take care. Bye bye!
Ahmed: So I hope you enjoyed the interview with Amy. She’s a really cool person and make sure you check out everything that she does in the show notes and just go see what she’s up to because it’s really cool stuff as well.
Ahmed: I hope you really enjoyed it and, if you have, I’d really appreciate it if you can leave a review on iTunes. In the meantime, stay tuned for another interview on Hear Me Out! [CC] Podcast.
Ahmed: Take care!